MISSISSAUGA, Ontario – Canadian Muslims commemorated the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Saturday, December 3, at a breakfast gathering at the Braeben Golf Club in Mississauga.
“There are at least 150,000 Muslims with disabilities in Canada alone,” Rabia Khedr, Executive director, CAM-D – Canadian Association of Muslims with Disabilities, told the gathering.
“About 24,000 Muslim children and adults have intellectual disabilities like autism.”
“We are all created equal by Allah, the Most Glorious, some of us with disabilities and some of us without disabilities,” she added.
“Some of us experience disability at different stages in life. Many of us indeed will experience some form of disability as we age.”
Since 1992, the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) has been celebrated annually on 3 December around the world.
The theme for this year’s International Day is “Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want.”
This theme notes the recent adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the role of these goals in building a more inclusive and equitable world for persons with disabilities.
The breakfast event was organized by DEEN Support Services, a Canadian charity that aims to advance community inclusion by offering culturally and spiritually relevant services for families and individuals living with disabilities.
Rabia Khedr, a founder of DEEN Support Services, as well as the Canadian Association of Muslims with Disabilities (CAM-D) said, “while these organizations are Muslim-focused, in terms of values and ethics, we serve all Canadians.”
To commemorate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Canadian Association of Muslims with Disabilities (CAM-D) also organizes an Annual Khutba Campaign that encourages Imams to deliver a message to build awareness of disability issues.
This year’s Khutba Campaign was held on Friday, December 2.
“Islam greatly empowers and supports persons with disabilities,” said Dr.Wael Shehab, Imam of Masjid Toronto, in his sermon.
“Among the Islamic values in dealing with persons with disabilities are honoring and respecting them, meeting their needs, being considerate to their feelings, appreciating their contributions, and empowering and supporting them to lead a happy and dignified life.
“Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) was extremely kind, merciful, and considerate to persons with disabilities,” he added.
“He (peace be on him) met their needs and maintained strong social ties with them.”
Muslims are the fastest growing religious community in Canada, according to the country’s statistical agency, Statistics Canada.
Canada’s Muslim population increased by 82 percent over the past decade – from about 579,000 in 2001 to more than 1 million in 2011.
Muslims represent 3.2 percent of Canada’s total population, according to the latest statistics.